Business Guru Michael Gerber Offers to Streamline Chabad Centers' Operations

Business Guru Michael Gerber Offers to Streamline Chabad Centers' Operations

Michael Gerber center, looks on as the Torah is read, flanked at right by Rabbi Shlomo Cunin, at left, Rabbi Levi Cunin. (

by Rebecca Rosenthal - Los Angeles, CA

February 27, 2008


Small business guru Michael Gerber’s E-Myth Revisited sold over 1,000,000 copies, and is licensed in 16 languages. His consulting firm has coached 50,000 small businesses in 145 countries. But Gerber told that his success and experience was “only practice” for his work with Chabad.

“I realized I have been working and preparing myself for the purpose of assisting Chabad’s rabbis in their deeply held mission to stimulate feelings for Yiddishkeit in the spirit of secular Jews,” said Gerber. “At 71, to discover my heart touched as never before is an amazing realization. I have something to contribute to the Rebbe’s dream of ‘Moshiach Now’. I feel called to it.”

Though they serve spiritual and social centers for Jewish life, Chabad centers run on the nuts and bolts of a small business. Trained as rabbis, advisors and teachers, Chabad representatives have MBA’s in people skills, and precious little formal training in running organizations.

Gerber is using his expertise to design a system that streamlines the time, effort and toil needed to keep the organizational aspects of Chabad running smoothly.

Then he’s going a step further.

The best aspects of Chabad, the ones that truly represent the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s vision of bringing Jewish people to appreciate the richness of Judaism, will be carefully examined and distilled so other Chabad centers can bring them to their communities.   

Once the best practices are known and translated into a form that others can replicate, Gerber expects  Chabad to grow in a way that dwarfs its past expansion. 

To bring about this change, Gerber sent - without asking for a penny in fees – a team of his top coaches to pick the brains of Chabad representatives, especially those in California.

“It’s time to pull together all the cumulative wisdom accrued over the last 50 years of Chabad’s outreach to help new shluchim and established ones skip over the trial and error of running a Chabad center,” said Rabbi Levi Cunin of Chabad of Malibu. 

In addition, because each Chabad center runs independently, creating effective blueprints for action has to begin on the micro-level. Gerber’s coaches have descended on Chabad of Mission Viejo, CA, to analyze how this center has grown a wildly successful Hebrew school and community, and to figure out ways to do it even better.

A browsing session at a bookstore was how Rabbi Zalman Marcus, the center’s co-director, discovered Gerber. Searching for a better way to organize the burgeoning center that has vibrant Hebrew school, preschool, teen club and adult education programs, Rabbi Marcus found answers in E-Myth Revisited.

 “I was immediately taken by it. It resonated with me because Chabad has many of the issues that many small businesses have. We start out as mom and pop operations and grow and grow.” The question was how to apply small business advice to Chabad. He and Rabbi Levi Cunin asked Gerber for a meeting.

After a lifetime of business meetings, Gerber was in for a surprise. Get a room full of Chabad reps and there’s no chance the meeting will be a snore-fest. Instead of the usual howdy-dos, the rabbis had Gerber putting on tefillin.

As a boy growing up in Santa Ana, CA, Gerber had a bar mitzvah but never wore tefillin. “I have been a non-practicing Jew all my life. I never felt deeply for Judaism and never felt deeply for Jewish rituals,” but he put on the tefillin anyway.  

“Suddenly I came face to face with extraordinarily joyful, passionate people. I felt much more at home with them than I have with any other group of people before,” said Gerber.

Several meetings later, Gerber decided: “It was a miracle Chabad has been able to accomplish what is has and achieve what it has without organizational systems.”

By the end of the multi-year process, Chabad centers will have access to how-to blueprints for day-to-day infrastructure. Other Chabad programs, such as the Jewish Learning Institute and Friendship Circle, have shown the type of growth and positive impact that can result from having a step-by-step plan of action.


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